Brendan Rodgers to look at squad before asking for Everton game postponement

The Leicester boss fielded all eight available senior players in the 4-1 win over Watford in the FA Cup.
Brendan Rodgers to look at squad before asking for Everton game postponement

By Andy Hampson, PA

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers will assess his squad before thinking about asking for Tuesday’s trip to Everton to be postponed after being reduced to eight senior outfield players for Saturday’s FA Cup tie against Watford.

The Foxes have been hit by a raft of injuries, positive coronavirus tests and Africa Cup of Nations call-ups in recent weeks.

All eight of those senior players started as Leicester began the defence of their trophy with a convincing 4-1 win over former manager Claudio Ranieri’s Hornets.

Asked if the Premier League game against Everton, already rearranged once, could be in doubt, Rodgers said: “We need to go in and assess it and see where we are at in terms of players. We will take it from there.”

Former Liverpool and Celtic boss Rodgers feels the situation is the worst he has experienced in his managerial career.

He said: “No, I have never had this before. It is a unique situation.

“Covid was tough for us, players were out and we couldn’t rest the ones who were playing.

“But it is a difficult situation for a lot of teams and just focusing on today was a great joy. We have begun our dream of getting back to Wembley again in a good way.”

Rodgers’ patched-up side to face Watford included 20-year-old Vontae Daley-Campbell and debutant Lewis Brunt, 21, while the hosts also had six inexperienced players on the bench.

Yet against a Hornets side also showing seven changes as they focus on their relegation battle, they were still too strong.

A Youri Tielemans penalty and James Maddison strike got them off to a fine start before Harvey Barnes and Marc Albrighton secured victory after a Joao Pedro reply.

Rodgers said: “The performance and result, I’m thrilled by it. The academy players did exceptionally well against a Premier League side.

“It was a tough game for us, so to play as well as we did, I’m very happy.”

Rodgers was particularly impressed by Hamza Choudhury, who shone in an unfamiliar central defensive role.

Rodgers said: “Hamza played in a back three or back two in training, and played it very well, so I rang him up and said, ‘You’re going to be the new (Javier) Mascherano, for Leicester’.

“I thought he was sensational in the game.”

Ranieri was not too disheartened by defeat, making clear he sees the Premier League – and some crucial basement battles in the coming weeks – as more important.

The Italian said: “The performance was good but my priority was to save some players because, for us, the rest of the season is very important.

“During the match we tried to do something good. We scored a goal to make it 2-1 and we had two or three chances. Maybe we had to shoot more but, at the end, Leicester did shoot, and score.

“But it was good because we had no injured players and that is very important.”

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